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Russia Today anchor quits on air over biased Putin coverage

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Tensions have escalated in Ukraine as Crimea’s Parliament aims to vote on March 16 for succession to the Russian Federation after last month’s expulsion of former President Viktor Yanukovych, reported The Washington Post. It’s a move that is being called illegal by the interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk.

Media coverage of the escalating situation has been all over the map — imbued with biased opinions, criticism of all leaders involved, with solid reporting sprinkled in for good measure.

Liz Wahl, an anchor for a Russian-sponsored network, quit on air at the conclusion of her show late Wednesday.

Eric Wemple explained it this way in his WaPost piece:

“Only in America via Russia: Liz Wahl, an anchor in the Washington bureau of RT America (Russia Today) on Wednesday made a grand gesture of announcing her resignation on air from the network. The reason for her decision? She spelled it right out for her viewers:

‘I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin. I’m proud of being an American and believe in disseminating the truth and that’s why after this newscast I’m resigning,’ which she felt obligated to do for moral and ethical reasons.”

Wahl was interviewed by the Daily Beast and appeared on CNN’s “Piers Morgan Live” on Wednesday, explaining her frustration with repeatedly being “censured by her superiors” and watching as others who ventured away from the network’s narrative were penalized.

Appearing on “Piers Morgan Live,” Wahl said she had been thinking about quitting for quite a while, so Morgan asked why she chose the job if she felt so strongly about biased reporting, because it’s well known Russian-controlled media is the standard in that country.

"If you feel this strongly then why would you join RT America to start with, seeing as it has got a history of being favorable toward Putin. Why would you want to work for that organization in the first place?” he asked.

Wahl, whose grandparents were refugees from Russia seeking a better life in America, said she had done some work she was proud of at RT but didn’t fully realize the “extent of the propaganda machine,” when she signed on. The Cold War was over, so she didn’t expect the editorial management would infringe so much on her work, like leaving out whole sections of her interviews.

"I just think it’s absurd that we’re just a few blocks away from the White House, and this is all able to go along," Wahl said.

Wahl’s resignation stirred up more drama over how some American-based networks were handling the Ukraine conflict, which lit up Twitter with tweets similar to the one featured by Noah Wehrman admonishing the tone set by some MSNBC pundits:

“Now if only everyone at MSNBC would follow Liz’s example,” #LizWahl.

Meanwhile, the announcement by the Crimean Parliament of a planned vote for succession was followed closely by President Barack Obama's decision for US sanctions and visa restrictions against individuals known to be complicit in threats against the sovereignty of Ukraine.

Putin, a man Hillary Clinton called a "tough guy with a thin skin," has put himself in a very untenable and dangerous situation as the whole watches to see how far he's willing to push the limits.

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